June 9, 2011

Manager's Suit Against Band Not Stayed By Parallel State Proceeding

Tramposch v. Winter, 10 Civ. 8286 (TPG), NYLJ 1202496374985, at *1 (SDNY, Decided May 25, 2011).

Plaintiff brought an action for breach of contract, unjust enrichment, etc. Plaintiff was the manager of the band "Red Jumpsuit Apparatus" until the band terminated the relationship in January 2010. According to plaintiff, prior to his termination, he and the band had a series of disputes regarding payment of commissions and repayment of loans made by plaintiff to the band. Defendants, members of the band, moved to stay the action pending resolution of a parallel proceeding brought by defendants against plaintiff in California. The Court denied the motion.

Plaintiff was not served with the complaint in the California state proceeding until AFTER he had commenced the Federal proceeding in New York (diversity jurisdiction). The Court found that there was no basis to abstain from hearing the federal case.

June 6, 2011

Bay City Rollers' Royalty Suit Not Time-Barred

Faulkner v. Arista Records LLC, 07 Civ. 2318 (LAP), NYLJ 1202495926616, at *1 (SDNY, Decided May 23, 2011).

Plaintiffs, all former members of 1970s-era musical group the Bay City Rollers, brought this action alleging that they were owed tens of millions of dollars in unpaid royalties from their record company, Defendant Arista Records, LLC ("Arista"). Plaintiffs claim these royalties pursuant to a 1981 agreement; accordingly, Arista argues that even if it owes Plaintiffs accrued royalties from the time period prior to 2001, the statute of limitations bars Plaintiffs' claim. Plaintiffs counter that Arista acknowledged its debt in a writing, thereby satisfying Section 17-101 of New York's General Obligations Law, which restarts the statute of limitations to revive the debt.

Section 17-101 of New York's General Obligations Law ("Section 17-101") codifies and restricts the common-law rule that an acknowledgement of a debt is sufficient to refresh the obligation, thereby restarting the running of the statute of limitations. To restart the running of the statute of limitations under Section 17-101, an acknowledgment or promise must be in writing, be signed by the debtor party, recognize an existing debt and contain nothing inconsistent with an intention on the part of the debtor to pay it.

Plaintiffs and Arista have each moved for partial summary judgment on Arista's affirmative defense that the statute of limitations bars Plaintiffs' claim. The Court granted Plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment, and denied Defendant's motion for partial summary judgment.